Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 6th March 2015.

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Photo of Nicholas Soames Nicholas Soames Conservative, Mid Sussex

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she is taking to improve total factor productivity in the agricultural sector; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Secretary of State has set out a long-term economic plan for food and farming - the number one priority is to enable a productive and resilient industry. As part of this work, Defra is dedicated to opening up new markets at home and abroad, making EU regulations work for British farmers, and protecting this country from plant and animal disease.

Earlier this month the Secretary of State introduced Food Enterprise Zones (FEZs), which will make the planning process easier for ambitious businesses that want to expand. Defra is making available grants of up to £50,000 in 11 areas to facilitate the setting up of Local Development Orders and FEZs. She has now opened applications for a second round.

To boost technology development, £70m of the £160m for Agri-Tech is funding an Agri-Tech Catalyst to commercialise near market innovation. 52 Agri-Tech Catalyst projects, worth £43m (£30m of government funding), have been announced. Successful projects from the Third Round will be announced in March 2015.

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